I’ve been following British basketball since I was 12 (that’s an understatement, it’s basically been my life since I was 12) so I’ve obviously wanted to go to an NBA game for a long time because it’s way bigger in America, so last week when I was still in Panama, me and Ruth booked tickets online for $60 each for seats at the back of the Staples Center for the LA Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies game, although Lakers are already out of the championships so it wasn’t going to be an important game.
We took the train there from near Ruth’s house and walked 2 minutes to the Staples Center. There were lots of car parks around offering parking for $15 or $20 for the game… kind of expensive. I’d never seen so many people wearing purple and yellow (Lakers colours) in my life! We got there about 20 minutes before it started but we only had to queue outside for 10 minutes, then go through the metal detector etc and go up a lot of escalators to find our seat.
The whole place was decorated with posters of the Lakers logo and a few life-size Kobe cut-outs etc, and everyone was given a free yellow and purple cheer-leading pompom. One of the “greatest fans”, as the commentator said, played the national anthem on the electric guitar before the game and we all had to stand up etc.
When the players came onto court I was pleasantly surprised because I thought they’d look like dots moving around but I could actually see them quite well. There was loads of dramatic music and graphics/videos before the game and the game ball was presented by one of the sponsors. The game was close until half time but then the Lakers got a bit rubbish and were trailing by 20 at the end of the 3rd quarter so I was hoping they’d make a comeback so it would be a tight finish but they never really got it back so it was a bit of an anticlimax. The standard of play was significantly better than in England though, and there were a couple of cool dunks and stuff which had replays shown on the big screen. As you can see it was mostly full, but not til a few minutes after tip-off:
In England in the time-outs and quarter breaks they mainly have games for the fans on court, like children have to race to score a basket or something. I knew there would be more sponsorship and commercial things throughout the game because it’s the NBA, but the amount of this was RIDICULOUS!!! In every time-out and quarter-time, the annoying monotone commentator was saying, for example, “If you’re sitting in seat 240 A, you win a free car service courtesy of Southern Cars” or whatever (I made up Southern Cars, I can’t remember the companies).
There were about 10 prizes being given in every break, ranging from a free burger voucher for a whole row of seats, to a 2-night stay in a Vegas hotel for one seat. Obviously it’s cool to win stuff, but it began to become annoying to really be reminded that this was all just about money. In half time they did the final of the fans’ skills game that had been going on throughout the season, so the 5 finalists had to dribble the ball round some cones, pass it 5 times through a circle, and shoot about 5 free-throws. The winner won a new car!
At the end we thought it would be really hard to squeeze onto the train because of all the people but it was actually fine, it seemed like most people had driven.
Overall I’m happy I went and it’s something I can tick of my list of things to do before I die, but to make it a more entertaining experience, they need to do something more fun than give prizes to people, and the Lakers need to play a bit better!